FORT SMITH, Ark. — Arkansas Blood Institute is hoping to welcome back thousands of deferred blood donors who have been unable to donate blood for the past 20 years.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released new guidelines for institutions that collect blood regarding an initial recommendation to defer blood donors associated with a risk of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), commonly known as “mad cow disease”.
Before the new guidelines, potential donors who had spent time in Europe, including many military families stationed abroad, were deferred from donating blood because of the theoretical risk of the variant of vCJD.
Based on updated evidence, the FDA’s new guidance removes the deferral recommendations associated with risk of vCJD for time spent in the United Kingdom from 1980-1996, time spent in France and Ireland from 1980-2001 and receipt of a blood transfusion in the U.K., France or Ireland from 1980-present, according to institute's press release.
"The system that we're apart of covers the Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma, parts of North Texas, and Arkansas - that number is 17,500 people that were permanently deferred, " said Danny Cervantes, executive director of Arkansas Blood Institute.
In 2020, the FDA removed several other European countries from the deferral list. These new changes remove the remaining countries, effectively lifting the entire deferral.
Cervantes says the institute is very excited about the new recommendation from the FDA and asks interested donors to call their eligibility hotline at 888-308-3924 for questions regarding the deferral removal.
To read more about the Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and the FDA's new guidelines, click here.
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